Belarus government worried about distress in agrarian sector

Belarus government worried about distress in agrarian sector
Agriculture is the only sector in Belarus where most of companies are loss-making
By Sergei Kuznetsov in Kyiv February 21, 2019

The Belarusian government is worried about the deteriorating situation in the nation's agrarian sector, which is the only sector that "remains in the negative territory," the country's  Economy Minister Dmitry Krutoi told reporters on February 19.

"Unfortunately, the negative trends of the previous year continued into January. The production of livestock products, greenhouse vegetables, flowers has decreased," state news agency BELTA quoted Kriutoi as saying. "We need to understand what is going on: either the Belarusians have started to consume more imported products or our producers are underperforming."

What is even more important, the minister believes that the problems in agriculture are becoming systemic, which leads to a risk for our farmers being squeezed out from the country's traditional exports market - Russia. "We cannot allow this to happen," Krutoi said.

Meanwhile, according to national statistics agency Belstat, the nation's agricultural output declineed by 3.4% year-on-year in 2018, and fell by 1.9% y/y in January 2019 (vs a growth of 4.4% y/y in January 2018).

State-run agricultural enterprises are dominated in the country's economy. They remain for the most part losses-making, and require significant earlier state subsidies even when their production and trade results are positive.